I think it’s time I get a little real with y’all.
And that’s not even a sarcastic opening this time!!! I realized I’ve never really shared why I started cooking.
Let us venture back to pre-teen Rachel. Or as I like to refer to her, she who must not be named. Growing up, I was ALWAYS the smallest kid in class. Like, got the kids menu and looked like an 8-year-old boy until I was 17. I don’t recommend this if you’re interested in having self esteem. Puberty rolled around my junior year and I became an average height, but was still skinny and could eat WHATEVER I wanted. I’ve told y’all about how I used to leave school, eat 12 nuggets, fries and a milkshake and THEN eat dinner. Those were the TIMES, man.
Sophomore year of college came around and I gained the weight we all do at that pivotal time. Nothing crazy, but it looked odd on my small frame. I honestly would have been blissfully ignorant except this was during the rise of social media when it became the vortex of self-pity and comparison we now know and love. I saw pictures of myself and just hated what I saw. I had never felt pretty (have you seen this schnoz?!), but I had always counted on being small. My first world, middle class, not enough problem-having world was rocked! Chicken nugget girl had no idea how to eat healthy, so I started restricting myself. I lost 20 pounds eating a bagel for breakfast, a granola bar for lunch and a little something for dinner. Or as I like to call it, the diet of an idiotic college girl who cared far too much what peeps thought of her. While I eventually began eating more, I continued the unhealthy restrictive habits. It wasn’t until I called my mom crying one afternoon after treating myself to Zaxby’s (wow, what a treat!) and feeling SO guilty, that I realized it was time to make a change. She took me to the grocery store, bought me food and taught me how to bake some chicken breasts. From there, I turned on Food Network and haven’t turned it off in over six years. I watched every single show and tried to learn as much as I could. I would spend my free time searching for recipes and reading about food. I started this blog to document some of the recipes I liked, and here we are. Almost 5 years later and this little space of the Internet is still one of my favorites.
Thank you for reading along and allowing me to be a lunatic and share some food and look at your food and I promise I eat quadruple the calories I used to – for example, I ate both of these pitas immediately after taking these photos.
Time: 1 hour (prep + cooking) | Serves: 4 pitas
- 1 eggplant, peeled + sliced into 1/2 inch discs
- 2 red peppers
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained .+ rinsed
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 a small red onion, sliced thin
- 1 zucchini, zoodled
- 2 tbsp. of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. of olive oil
- 1 tbsp. of tomato paste
- 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper
- S+P, to taste
- Pitas, toasted
- Cilantro, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Arrange eggplant discs on a lined baking sheet, using 1 tbsp. of olive oil, brush each side + sprinkle with S+P
- Arrange red peppers on another lined baking sheet
- Arrange chickpeas on a third lined baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp. of olive oil + some S+P
- Place all in the oven (peppers + eggplant on the same rack if possible), bake chickpeas for 25 minutes, turning once, eggplant for 30 minutes, turning once, red peppers for 45 minutes, turning once
- Once cooled, remove the charred skins from the peppers + cut the tops off + remove any seeds
- In a food processor combine eggplant + red peppers + garlic + remaining olive oil + tomato paste + crushed red pepper + S+P, process until smooth
- To serve, spread your eggplant + pepper goodness on a pita + top with zoodles + tomatoes + chickpeas + onion + cilantro
- Fold pita up like a boat + swim it right into the giant hole in your face
Spread adapted from my girl, Ina!